1st Degree Murder Conviction Reversed Because of Failure of DA to disclose Police Dog Sniffing Dog’s Prior Bad Acts!

Nice reversal of a first-degree murder conviction out of Los Angeles County. I heart Judge Pregerson, although it is a Fletcher opinion.

What had happened was:

LA DA Steve Cooley’s deputy (I spent some time trying to find out who the constitution violator was because JJC ALWAYS NAMES NAMES but I couldn’t 😦 if you know, email it to me) violated Brady in failing to disclose evidence in their possession that the dog sniffing dog who identified the defendant’s scent on the passenger seat of a car where the shooter reportedly sat had, on more than one prior occasion, been wrong with his scent sniffin.

Side note, is there a confrontation clause problem with the fact that you cannot cross-X the dog and show his biases, motivation, and financial interest to lie??? (j/k. Or am I?) This doggie eventually got fired because he was so bad!!

Anyway, in this case the DA’s office had stipulated to the dog’s unreliability in a different trial several months before Aguilar’s which led to the exclusion of the evidence in that trial.

The LA Public Defender–and the bad ass constitution enforces that they are–had actually written a letter to the DA after that trial saying that the DA had a Brady obligation to disclose this doggy’s unreliable nose to every defense attorney going forward if they planned to use that evidence against that person.

Cooley apparently ignored the letter or didn’t ensure his deputies complied.  It is unclear why, if the Public Defender’s Office knew about the dog’s unreliability in the prior trial, the particular public defender in this case did not.  I believe there are over 700 public defenders in that County. It is understandable that one deputy doesn’t know about something in another deputies case.  But, this is an example of why PDs offices should have a master database of police officers and Brady material on any of them (or their dogs) and deputies should always search that database when they get a new case.  Obviously, the database could not include information learned through pitchess motions (we need to change this).

Published by Jenny Brandt

About Me: sociology, african american studies, chicano/a studies, critical race studies, and criminal law scholar. public school kid from kindergarten-J.D. Former public defender. I am a post-conviction guru. Appeals. Sentencing. Withdraw Pleas. Habeas. Published author in the Criminal Law Bulletin and California Defender. "I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world." Why I started JJC: My PD buddy suggested it. What and who JJC is inspired by: public defenders I have worked for, with, and next to. my clients who have battled things no one should and are still here. innocence and guilt and everything in between. My coworkers, who fight just as hard as the PDs I love, for many of the same reasons. My husband who was once voted "most Christ like" (every Jewish girl's dream). My Corgi who loves everyone. The constitution. Tabloids. My mom, for giving me a voice. My dad, for teaching me what to say. My brother, for teaching me how to say it.

2 thoughts on “1st Degree Murder Conviction Reversed Because of Failure of DA to disclose Police Dog Sniffing Dog’s Prior Bad Acts!

  1. I filed a pitchess motion directed at a police dog once. The judge was irate and the agency claimed they didn't have personnel files for their dogs. Maybe i wasn't as far off as they claimed!

what chu got to say?!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: